Trip Insurance Rethink Following Maui Wild Fires

Protecting Trapped Hawaii Visitors Going Forward: Is There A Way?

So many things have come to mind since the catastrophic Lahaina Maui fire on August 8. This is yet another one. To be clear, this is in no way intended to detract from our concern for the grave situation here on Maui.

Many of you feel marooned because you have to cancel your trip to West Maui, but the host may not let you. Or you were evacuated from Maui, unable to complete your trip, and had additional expenses. We heard from one reader who had a large gathering booked in West Maui for $30,000 without insurance and appears stuck holding the bill.

“How would trip insurance protect me under such fast-changing circumstances?” Trip insurance, domestic travel, and wildfires are things we had never fully connected before this. But now we all need to add wildfires and perhaps trip insurance to the context of travel planning and potential cancellations or disruptions caused by natural disasters like the Maui wildfires.

Here’s a question we just received from Jamie: “

Has anyone filed a trip cancellation claim with their travel insurance and heard back from them? I had a honeymoon planned September 2-8 staying at a condo in Kaanapali. We want to do the right thing and postpone our trip, however all of our vacation money is tied up in this non-refundable reservation.
I purchased travel insurance, but since our condo seems to still be available, I’m not sure insurance will cover the claim. I reached out to our host on VRBO just this last weekend to see if they will cancel our reservation and am awaiting their response. I understand my vacation is the least important item on the agenda right now and will remain patient. I was just wondering if anyone has had any luck with travel insurance.”

Where can Cancel/interrupt for any reason trip insurance help.

This specific type of trip insurance could protect 75% of your potentially lost investment. It’s one that we often purchase and is worth considering. That has never been as true as it is today. Whether for wildfires, airline disruptions, or a wide range of unexpected things that seem to happen much more frequently these days.

While it doesn’t cover 100%, it does protect most of your money. When we decide how much coverage we need, we remove any charges or fees we believe would be reimbursed. That way, we only cover the amount we might forfit.

Cancel and interrupt for any reason coverage are the ones that work, in most cases, no matter what. You don’t need to document anything other than that you had a trip and you cancelled or interrupted it. We consider them the fall-back clause, so that if you don’t technically qualify or the other ones like trip cancellation or trip interruption, this one will usually still work.

Trip insurance, or travel insurance, is a range of different coverage types that help protect your Hawaii vacation investment via cost reimbursement or emergency assistance in the event of unexpected events occurring before or during your Hawaii vacation. These events can range from seemingly unlikely events, like the catastrophic Maui wildfires, to medical emergencies, trip interruption and cancellation, baggage delay and loss, missed connections, and more.

Wildfires like the one on Maui spread with dramatic speed. Wildfires can result from various things, including drought, high winds (in this case, from the remnant of a hurricane), lightning, or human behavior.

Things to keep in mind regarding trip insurance and wildfires.

Trip interruption/cancellation. When a wildfire happens near your vacation destination before your trip, there may be coverage when there are specific closures, evacuation orders, or other objective disruptions. This type of trip insurance may offer coverage for non-refundable expenses, be they accommodations, air or ground travel, tours, and activities.

Travel Delay: Wildfires like the one on Maui can lead to flight delays and cancellations. Trip insurance can compensate for expenses you incur based on delays, including alternative transportation, accommodations, and meals.

Emergency medical insurance: Should healthcare be required due to wildfires, trip insurance can offer coverage. However, that is also likely available as part of your mainland medical insurance.

Fine print, limits, exclusions: Each clause of a trip insurance policy is its own binding contract with specific coverage, limits, and exclusions. Sometimes wildfires may be included, and other times not. And insurance can’t be purchased once known problems exist – like once a fire starts.

Take-away: If you buy trip insurance, you must read every clause like any other contract. That way, you can pick one that provides the coverage you expect for wildfire and other things. Policies vary widely. Also, remember what coverage may already be available to you via your current health, auto, and homeowners insurance as well as some credit cards.

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32 thoughts on “Protecting Trapped Hawaii Visitors Going Forward: Is There A Way?”

  1. I’m praying for the people of Hawaii because this is truly a set back. I have a trip to maui next year in June. The way these travel insurance companies operate I might just cancel. But because Maui needs the support I will travel there. May God be with you all🙏🏾🙏🏾

  2. If you’re shelling out a lot of money, it’s good to pick up some travel insurance, even if it feels unnecessary at the time.

  3. Hopefully Maui fire victims can hold on through FEMA and insurance and Maui Strong payments as a Master Plan to rebuild the economic engine in Lahaina is developed and approved in order that the majority
    of Ohana in the islands agree moving forward.
    If Waikiki had burned from the beach to the Aliwai Canal, major players would come forward.
    Don Ho long ago was my neighbor in Kaneohe. This takes someone who has designed beautiful landscaping throughout Asia for half a century, Steven Mechler to give Maui his legacy of a lifetime.
    Other islanders can rebuild, but Mechler can breathe Hawaiian spirit into creating a renewed Maui mecca.
    West Coast tourism has revived but the Japanese have not returned. Maybe Biden’s team on Monday can discuss can restarting that.
    We can’t solve every issue but perhaps we can figure out ways to keep the old vistas as we renew pledges to be faithful to what brought tourists by the millions to Maui. I once traveled there to look at the stars.
    And perhaps airlines can be mindful that for a while tourists should be diverted to other islands. And perhaps for 2 years marketing needs to focus people on visiting elsewhere.
    The Aloha spirit on Maui needs time, 2 years, to come back smiling through the pain.
    Open too early and you lose that lifetime of promoting joy. Don Ho knew that Hawai’i was the pearly shell and its people are the pearls whose aloha spirit is priceless.

  4. All airlines offer you the option to buy insurance when you book a flight, which covers the travel part of your trip. Airbnb also offers insurance for the accommodation part of your trip. For both of those options, you have to make the purchase upfront when you book.

    I use all-in-one comprehensive travel insurance for a Big Trip. The company I have found to have the best policy – not necessarily the least expensive – is Seven Corners. If you are looking for the least costly insurance, there are consolidation websites where you can compare prices and features of different travel insurance and then buy the one you decide on. (I can’t give the URL, but perhaps Rob or Jeff could do so?)

    1. Hi Margaret.

      We’d suggest people research both insurance carriers and those companies who sell Trip insurance who are agents and not the actual insurance provider. Here’s an article we wrote previously about that. We highly suggest independently research and buying trip insurance. Those are value added products for airlines and vacation rental companies. That means there is another hand the pie so to speak.



  5. I’ve bought travel guard umpteen years and collected twice without problems. However, many of their agents don’t know what they’re doing and I’ve had to talk to a supervisor to get problems solved. I’ve tried other companies but travel guard has better prices and packages. I make a point of documenting the exact time i’ve talked to an agent and the agents name and then tg can pull up a recording of my conversation with an agent. Before I started doing that I couldn’t prove what I had been told so couldn’t collect.

  6. Aloha! Thanks for all the great posts on the devastating fires in Maui. My heart breaks for all affected, and I know this is just the beginning of a very long road.

    Aside from the obvious relief effort websites, which are appreciated, I’d love to see a list of local Maui businesses that I could support in the coming months with online purchases. The holiday season will be here soon (hard to believe in 100+ degree temps in Texas), and a post such as this might help other users who would like to support Maui from afar.


    1. From another Texan who just got back from Ka’anapali yesterday, that is a great idea. We were going to buy ornaments from CocoNene on Front street, but didn’t go before the fire☹️. They sell online. I’m sure there are many others.

    2. Great idea Britney,
      I suggested that after the Gatlinburg Tenn fire a few years ago. Shortly after that severaI businesses beefed up theiir online websites and it made a real difference. I really believe that is an excellent idea.
      You might even start by ordering things for birthday presents for friends.
      Maybe even write the airlines suggesting they reduce their freight outbound costs for a month or two to get the ball rolling.

  7. I usually buy travel insurance, but it’s tricky when the situation is that you CAN go on your trip, but it’s suddenly a really bad idea. We had plane tickets to go to Maui in July 2020, and due to COVID we decided not to go. The flight wasn’t cancelled though, so we couldn’t invoke the travel insurance and just had to deal with Hawaiian airlines’ rescheduling policy. Luckily we were able to cancel our lodging within the 100% refund window. Ultimately, someone has to pay for a canceled trip, whether it be the insurance company, the traveler, or the vendor who sells transportation or lodging. Remember that your AirBnB fees are paying someone’s mortgage on that property, and those costs just don’t evaporate. Hotels need to rent rooms to pay for the hotel staff, or else everyone is out of a job.

  8. What company is the best for trip insurance?
    I got ripped off by one because of Covid, the event I was to attend was canceled and on top of that my wife was just released from a hospital the week before. No Refund!

    1. Hi John.

      Good question. We’re trying to figure that out ourselves. We had a trip that got interrupted recently which was insured by our old standy-by, Travel Insured. It was the biggest claim we’ve ever had. Nearly two months have passed since we filed the claim and we still haven’t gotten paid. So on the next trip we’re going to try another company. Sounds like the subject for an article…




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